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5 Things You Didn't Know About Your Child and Sleep

Sleep (or lack of sleep) affects all 24 hours of your child’s day (and therefore, all 24 hours of YOUR day!) The quality and quantity of your child’s sleep influences his mood, behavior, health, and even brain development. Adequate, restful sleep is a vital component for your child’s healthy, happy life. Here are 5 things you may not know about sleep.

Five Things to Know About Sleep

1. Poor sleep causes crying, tantrums, whining, and fussing.

Your child’s sleep habits can affect every single waking moment of every single day. A sleep-deprived child is simply not as happy as one who gets enough sleep every day. A tired child is more prone to crying, tantrums, whining and fussing, and is much more difficult to calm.

2. One in three children wakes up at night.

As frustrating as it is to parents, night waking is . . . normal! All human beings wake up five or more times every night, mainly when shifting from one stage of sleep to another. The issue is not for a child to sleep all night without waking up (that's impossible), but for a child to be able to fall back to sleep – totally on his own – each time he does wake up.

3. The first five minutes of nap time reduce tiredness.

When a child naps, he moves through various cycles of sleep and each cycle has it's own benefits. The first five minutes of a nap eliminate tiredness for the moment. If woken just after falling asleep a child can’t return to sleep easily, but will be cranky and tired. It takes at least an hour long nap is important to refresh a child for the remainder of the day.

4. Early bedtime means better sleep.

The majority of children have a natural, biological bedtime that is early in the evening. Most babies, toddlers and preschoolers respond best with a bedtime between 6:00 and 7:30 P.M. Most children will fall asleep easier at this time and then actually sleep better and longer when they go to bed earlier. Pushing a bedtime past a child's natural, biologically-set time means a child who is more fussy and finds it harder to fall asleep later, due to a "second wind" that occurs. So aim for an early bedtime!

5. A dark room and sleepy sounds bring better slumber.

Take advantage of your child’s natural biology so that he is actually TIRED when his bedtime arrives! You can help align sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights in the hour before bedtime. Dim lighting triggers the sleepy control center in the brain, just as bright lights cause wakefulness. In addition, noises can prevent a child from falling asleep, or wake him up after he’s gone to bed. To mask noises and to create a strong sleep cue, use white noise, such as ocean waves or rainfall (use a sound machine), or lullabies, soft music, or a radio set on a talk station. These restful sounds can keep a child sleeping peacefully even when there are noises elsewhere in the house or outside.

Need more sleep tips? The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers is a great resource for more in-depth answers!


Elizabeth Pantley's picture
No-Cry Solution Series Author

Elizabeth Pantley is a parent educator, mother of four, and the author of the now-classic baby sleep book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution, as well as six other books in the series, including The No-Cry Separation Anxiety SolutionThe No-Cry Potty Training SolutionThe No-Cry Discipline Solution, The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution, plus other successful parenting books. She is known worldwide as the practical, reasonable voice of respectful parenting.